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<Movie Details
1 March 2012 by Tim Evans

Spanish maverick Pedro Almodovar has applied his glossy female-centric touch to most genres...but this is the first time he's dallied with horror.

Present and correct are his usual motifs - wild desire, supercharged emotion, family secrets - but now he's added a creepy cold steel to his customary day-glo melodrama.

The chilly frisson is provided by a lean Antonio Banderas - in his first collaboration with Almodovar in 21 years - as eminent plastic surgeon Ledgard, who is engaged in an ethically dubious experiment to create unblemishable skin.

He's driven in his search for medical perfection by the death of his wife, who committed suicide after being horrifically burned in a road accident.

Even more disturbingly, Ledgard's palatial laboratory also doubles as a prison for unstable young Vera  (Anaya), the body stocking-clad guinea-pig that he's using to render the artifical tissue.

Almodovar cleverly uses flashback to unsettlingly reveal who Vera really is, an outrageous, sexually perverse twist that only the inspired Spaniard could get away with.

Of course, he can't resist a slab of camp, if nervous, humour in the form of Ledgard's half-brother, a tiger costume-clad crimmo on the run from the police whose arrival in his ordered world causes chaos.

It's the work of a director firmly in control of his subject and shows that - when he wants to - there are few subjects that he can't tackle with flair.